Splendid Cycles

SE Foster road diet finally out to bid: Construction will start in May

Posted by on January 29th, 2018 at 1:12 pm

Let’s get this thing started!
(Graphics: City of Portland)

Nearly four years after was unanimously supported by Portland City Council, the Foster Road Streetscape Plan is finally poised to begin construction.

The City of Portland put out a bid for construction services last week and ground-breaking for the project is expected to begin in early May.

The project has already been delayed about a year due to some wranglings with funding and process-related red tape between the City of Portland and the Federal Highway Administration. The main project is funded by the federal government to the tune of $5.25 million. Last spring the City of Portland decided to add $3 million of its own money to rebuild and repave the section between SE 82nd and 90th. That work required additional environmental approvals which delayed the project. Now with those contractual and funding obligations all ironed out the project is ready to move forward.


The Portland Bureau of Transportation wants to update the design of the road to make it safer and less stressful to use and live around. Foster is currently a designated High Crash Corridor with over 1,200 crashes and eight fatalities in the last 10 years. The current configuration of the 50-foot wide street includes five lanes for auto users and narrow, five-foot wide sidewalks. The new cross-section will have three lanes for auto users, two lanes for bicycle users, and wider, nine-foot sidewalks on both sides of the street. The project will also add new street tries, better lighting, safer crossings, and new transit shelters.

PBOT says, “The changes on Foster Road will help turn it into a successful Main Street by providing greater accessibility for all modes and a safer and attractive corridor that supports businesses and neighborhoods.”

While the project enjoys widespread support, there are some business owners and community members who fear the project will slow driving times and exacerbate gentrification in the area.

The city says construction is slated to begin in early May.

(In other east Portland project news, The Oregonian reported today that the Division Transit Project has been delayed due to cost overruns.)

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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  • Steph Routh January 29, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    Wahoo!!! So excited.

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  • bikeninja January 29, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    thumbs up!

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  • chasingbackon January 29, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    While the owner of the furniture store on 67th and foster will be pissed to hear this is moving forward, as a resident of the neighborhood, I say, about time.

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    • bikeninja January 29, 2018 at 1:54 pm

      Its amazing how some people will cling to bad or outmoded ideas for illusory reasons, such as high crash Foster Road, smoking on airplanes or commuting in private automobiles.

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    • Stephen Keller January 29, 2018 at 2:59 pm

      While the owner of the furniture store on 67th and foster will be pissed to hear this is moving forward, as a resident of the neighborhood, I say, about time.

      What will probably piss off the owners of that business more will be the inevitable hikes in property lease rates or taxes that will come as Foster gets trendy and gentrified. If the proposed design changes work, they will bring a different very kind of neighborhood vitality to the area. Businesses that don’t adapt may find themselves irrelevant to the new scene.


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      • maccoinnich January 29, 2018 at 3:14 pm

        Looking at Portland Maps the buildings are owned by the same person who owns the furniture business. If property values do go up as a result of the road diet their property taxes won’t go up any more than they would otherwise, due to Measure 47/50 caps.

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        • Stephen Keller January 30, 2018 at 6:41 am

          I couldn’t decide from Portland Maps. Ross Nanagement LLC looked like a leasing company to me, but PM also mentions Schliefers. I wonder if they did one of those asset transfer deals, where they lease back the property.

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      • rick January 29, 2018 at 5:32 pm

        Excited! Bring in the family-friendly stores !

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  • Jim Lee January 29, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    Sidewalks on Foster’s Road are 12 to 16 feet wide, not the 5 feet shown in the drawing.

    With any intelligent design we could have had 2 lanes each way and separated cycle tracks on both sides

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    • rick January 29, 2018 at 1:57 pm

      Why build 2 car lanes both ways? Foster once had a trolley line. Foster has many power lines in the middle of the narrow sidewalks.

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    • maccoinnich January 29, 2018 at 2:17 pm

      The existing sidewalks east of 82nd are in fact as narrow as 5′:


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    • paikiala January 30, 2018 at 11:36 am

      Two car lanes becomes only one through lane when someone needs to make a left turn and has to stop in a lane to do so.

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    • kathryn January 30, 2018 at 12:25 pm

      You would have to eliminate parking t o do that and 2 lanes in both directions would still have the safety concerns. So NO.

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  • Bald One January 29, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    We’ll see how “the little things” fare after the build is complete! Come on Portland, it’s not too late to really do a Platinum job on the actual build.

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  • J.E. January 29, 2018 at 2:01 pm

    Since there’s a lot more political support for bike infra and safe streets from City Council, and renewed PBOT interest in fully-separated cycling tracks (see: Naito proposal) now vs 4 years ago, any chance we might see a design upgrade? Particularly thinking about the door-zone bike lanes on the NW end of the street (although putting the trees between the bike lane and car lane, rather than between the bike lane and sidewalk, would also be a huge upgrade). Or is it way too late for that?

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    • nuovorecord January 29, 2018 at 2:14 pm

      If they’ve already selected a contractor, the design is pretty well set. Not likely that changes will be made from what you see above.

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    • soren January 30, 2018 at 9:43 am

      “more political support for bike infra and safe streets from City Council”

      meanwhile, the east portland neighborhood greenways that were first funded ~6 years ago have been delayed yet again to 2019 (4th delay and counting).

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  • igor January 29, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    Will the project also change the speed limit on Foster in the same area? Currently it’s 35.

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    • rick January 29, 2018 at 5:34 pm

      Perhaps after the project is done. PBOT plans to do a test after SW Capitol Highway gets rebuilt to lower the speed from 35.

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    • paikiala January 30, 2018 at 11:37 am

      Current policy is no higher than 30 mph on a road with bike lanes adjacent to moving auto lanes unless a buffer (minimum) is provided.

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  • Toadslick January 29, 2018 at 2:11 pm

    This will be a huge improvement, not just as a convenient cycling route, but especially for the many people that have to regularly cross the four or five lanes of automobile traffic.

    With that said, this design is already outdated. Six foot paint-only bike lanes are not going to feel comfortable given the large number of trucks and trailers that use Foster. I suspect that many people will opt to share the 9-foot sidewalks with people walking.

    Physically protected bike lanes could be a huge win on Foster, especially since it wouldn’t take much to directly connect them to Clinton and points east in the future. But the fact that paint-only bike lanes are being celebrated in 2018 means that this will be as good as it gets for Foster for decades to come, while many other cities, even in the U.S., have raised their standards much higher.

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    • pixie February 2, 2018 at 12:53 pm

      “The fact that paint-only bike lanes are being celebrated in 2018 means that this will be as good as it gets for Foster for decades to come, while many other cities, even in the U.S., have raised their standards much higher.”

      Comment of the Week

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  • Terry D-M January 29, 2018 at 2:45 pm

    The Foster design is set, but it will be transformative for the corridor.

    I have been involved in the Division High Capacity Bus project from the beginning. The Oregonian article is correct it is $14-20 million over budget, but the current administration is not funding ANY Small Starts this cycle at all. Hence the delay would have happened anyway.

    It also gives us another year to advocate for buying electric buses instead of cheaper diesel. The extra $25 million is considered a “betterment” and can be on top of the $175 million hard cap. We can pay for it with local dollars. Hence, in the end, the delay may make for a healthier corridor.

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    • curly January 29, 2018 at 4:26 pm

      Hence the delay would have happened anyway.

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  • shirtsoff January 29, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    Jim Lee
    Sidewalks on Foster’s Road are 12 to 16 feet wide, not the 5 feet shown in the drawing.With any intelligent design we could have had 2 lanes each way and separated cycle tracks on both sidesRecommended 0

    I’m pretty sure the sidewalks just past Mt Scott Fuel get to 5′ over by the apartments before 70th Ave as well as the sections past 82nd Ave.

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  • Granpa January 29, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    The road diet plan for Foster is seriously flawed. The vehicle travel lanes are 10′ wide. The section shows that planners anticipate vehicles with widths of 10′-6″ when the mirrors are measured. Does no one remember the cycling tourist who was killed on Hwy 101 when an RV mirror struck him in the back of the head?

    “Ray Thomas to the white courtesy phone”

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    • David Hampsten January 29, 2018 at 9:20 pm

      If you want to get car traffic to move at posted speed limits, rather than 10-20 mph over, narrowing marked traffic lanes is one of the best cheap strategies. The feds allow down to 9 feet, but 10 feet is recommended for 30-35 mph according to the traffic engineers here in NC. Presumably Highway 101 allows for higher posted speeds. I wish Portland would do the same every time they repave a street and have to replace the markings, like they now do here in Greensboro, after 50 years of resistance.

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  • Jim Lee January 29, 2018 at 5:41 pm

    The 2 miles of Foster’s Road sidewalks from 50th to 82nd are very wide–widest in the city. That section is where the great majority of problems lie.

    A good design would have had traffic calming, isolated cycle paths, safe sidewalks as separate but coordinated elements. Foster’s Road is the one place in the city it would have been possible to do this at reasonable cost.

    Another classic “invent it as we go” PBOT mess up. There is one person at PBOT responsible for all these. It is not difficult to figure out who it is.

    By the way, Foster’s Road is one terminus of the Oregon Trail. Probably that makes it the oldest right-of-way in our city.

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    • David Hampsten January 29, 2018 at 9:32 pm

      Foster is very old, but not necessarily the oldest. Sandy and Powell are both old Indian trails, as are several other streets. Might some of the waterfront streets date from the early 1800s, including Marine Drive along the Columbia? The railroad rights-of-way were surveyed in the 1840s, long before tracks were laid down. Vancouver Washington is older still, as Lewis & Clark visited the trading post already there during their stay.

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      • Jim Lee January 30, 2018 at 2:24 pm

        Thanks for the history, David! Why are you in NC, by the bye?

        L & C came down the Columbia and missed the Willamette entirely, until natives corrected that error on the way back.

        My understanding is that Foster’s Road went left at what now is 50th and so down to the river a bit north of what now is the Ross Island Bridge. Wiggles from a straight line characterize old roads, and SE Portland has plenty of both.

        I call it “Foster’s Road” because the Oregon Trail split at Foster’s Farm, near Damascus, where there is a nice museum, the original leg going south to OC, and FR going north to what became “Stumptown.”

        In any case, Foster’s sidewalks are so wide that it is a travesty not to convert them into BOTH bike lanes and foot paths.

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        • David Hampsten January 30, 2018 at 3:56 pm

          Reason for being in NC: More Foster Roads here in NC, but a real challenge finding any numbered streets (we have a 4th, 5th, 11th, 12th, 14th, and 16th, but none of the rest). Plus it’s much cheaper here than in Portland and we have fewer living MAMILs.

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  • Doug Klotz January 29, 2018 at 7:02 pm

    This appears to be a bid for the whole project. I understand that the 82nd to 92nd section has a different funding source. Yes, the narrowest sidewalks are 82nd to 90th, and will be widened as shown in the cross-section at top. 72nd to 82nd is wider, but not as wide as 50th to 72nd.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu January 29, 2018 at 11:38 pm

    It is interesting to read the 2013 comments about this. https://bikeportland.org/2013/10/22/pbot-makes-official-recommendation-for-se-foster-road-redesign-95910

    And to realize it has taken five more years for this project to get to bid.

    How long will it end up taking, for the whole project, start to end? A decade?

    A decade or nearly so, to get a road diet.

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    • rick January 30, 2018 at 7:17 am

      One reason for the delay was to get the repave for the eastern section of the diet. It was from the 2016 gasoline tax money.

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      • soren January 30, 2018 at 9:49 am

        this is pure revisionism. the delays were sparked by failed bids.

        deja vu?

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  • John Liu
    John Liu January 29, 2018 at 11:39 pm

    Forgot to add – in that period, how much has the project cost gone up?

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    • Terry D-M January 29, 2018 at 11:45 pm

      It was first outlined as a priority project in 2003, which is when PBOT started looking for funding. 15 years….for only a $5.3 million two mile Streetscape. If properly funded, PBOT should be able to build theses on their own on a regular basis without federal funding.

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  • twowheels January 30, 2018 at 9:26 am

    It’s been delayed a lot longer than a year, at the original SAC meetings (2012-13) they told us it would be built in 2014 or 2015 (around the time the Sellwood bridge (which was also a year late) would be done).

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  • soren January 30, 2018 at 9:48 am

    there is zero evidence in this piece that 1) this bid will develop interest or 2) that construction will start in spring.

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  • John Liu January 30, 2018 at 10:06 am

    I don’t know the whys and wherefores of the delay. But a decade (or more?) is too long to get a road diet done. Can people who are knowledgeable about it explain why these project take so long and how they might be speeded up?

    I know public process takes time, but that doesn’t seem to be the main issue here.

    Especially poignant, to me, were the comments in the 2013 discussion that while the project could be better, it will be a big improvement so let’s get it built now rather than delayed for many years. If we had known in 2013 that “now” meant “five years from now” . . .

    And a quick estimate – if costs go up 4%/year, a ten year delay increases project cost by almost 50%.

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  • Evan January 30, 2018 at 1:26 pm

    I thought we were doing protected bike lanes by default these days.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 30, 2018 at 2:14 pm

      nope. although you shouldn’t be faulted for thinking that because of the way that policy is talked about (and resulting media coverage). The policy is that when new development happens or when plans are drawn up, the default assumption is that protected bike lanes should be the starting point. It’s not a hard and fast rule by any means — but it does work sometimes and I’ve heard PBOT planning staff refer to it so that’s something!

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  • younggods January 30, 2018 at 4:24 pm

    Seems insane not to have protected bike lanes on this project.

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    • twowheels January 31, 2018 at 9:45 am

      It was going to majorly increase the price of the project (perhaps to the point that it wouldn’t get done at all), and most of the streets intersect Foster at weird angles (since Foster is not 90 degrees to the grid). It was talked about near the end, but most on the SAC agreed it wasn’t worth fighting for and completely losing the project.

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